Gearing up for 5G from Zurich
Huawei’s annual Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) once again attracted the mobile industry’s most influential executives from around the world who highlighted the accelerated global move to 5G, reinforcing the event’s theme ‘5G, Gear Up.’
In just a year, the entire end-to-end 5G ecosystem – standards, spectrum, networks and devices – has matured, establishing a strong foundation for global rollouts. A total of 40 operators in more than 20 countries launched 5G services as of mid-October.
South Korea, the Netherlands and Switzerland have already expanded 5G coverage to 90 per cent of the population, with South Korea on track to have 5 million subscribers by the end of the year. Meanwhile, operators in China aim to deploy 150,000 5G base stations in 50 cities by end of the year and 800,000 sites in more than 300 cities by December 2020.
MBBF brought together more than 1,600 representatives from carriers, vertical industries, equipment manufacturers, standards organisations, analyst firms and the media.
This year’s event, held for the first time in Zurich, Switzerland, and running from 15 to 16 October, marked the tenth anniversary of MBBF.
The opening day kicked off with Huawei Deputy Chairman Ken Hu outlining the current status of 5G developments around the world. In addition to highlighting the value 5G has already brought to consumers and industries in early adopter countries, he also delved into the importance of favorable policy and cross-sector collaboration for speeding up the next stage of 5G development.
He noted that 5G is not just faster 4G, “it’s fundamentally different, so as an industry, we all need to have a fresh mindset to drive its future development”.
Following Hu’s opening keynote, GSMA Director General Mats Granryd and CTO Alex Sinclair (pictured) shared insight into mobile’s role in driving change and the path to mass-market 5G.
Sunrise CEO Olaf Swantee highlighted the role of 5G in reducing the digital divide between urban and rural areas, and improve sustainability by improving efficiency.
The European 5G pioneer recently announced it is hosting Huawei’s first joint innovation centre in Europe, which opened at the operator’s headquarters in Zurich. Its 5G network now covers more than 262 towns and cities across Switzerland: it claims at least 80 per cent population coverage in the areas.
The road to a successful 5G future was also covered by keynotes from China Mobile and Telefonica.
The afternoon sessions dived deeper into the benefits of 5G and the exciting new use cases the technology will enable. Leaders from across the mobile ecosystem spoke of the value of 5G, including operators Orange Group and Elisa, gaming developer Hatch Entertainment, standards body ETSI and Switzerland’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research.
Huawei’s prestigious CTO Roundtable celebrated its 15th anniversary with an esteemed line up of executives from some of the world’s largest operators, while two Wireless Industry Talks showcased the industry’s hottest topics and achievements. A Wireless Intelligence Summit focused on the benefits of 5G, while the Open Site Roundtable revealed how to simplify 5G sites. And a 5G DIS Roundtable saw carriers, tower vendors, the GSMA, analysts, service integrators, industry leaders, and regulatory bodies discuss 5G indoor deployment strategies and explore new opportunities.
And a special analyst roundtable from South Korean operator LG U+ highlighted best practice for 5G deployment.
Ryan Ding, Huawei Executive Director of the Board and President of Carrier BG, urged mobile operators to develop new network capabilities, operational capabilities and business models to embrace the B2B transformation.
During his presentation, Ding said operators can monetise 5G in a number of ways, including taking mobile broadband services to a new level and offering a higher-quality experience that users are willing to pay a premium for.
He noted that Huawei has won more than 60 5G contracts globally and shipped over 400,000 5G active antenna units (AAUs).
Matt Beal, Vodafone Group Director of Technology Strategy and Architecture, said its strategy of pricing data by speed rather than volume delivered a successful 5G differentiator in several markets, though he warned it still lacked key spectrum in some countries.
Zain Group CTO Hisham Allam dismissed excessive hype around 5G, but maintained the technology will be a necessity for operators looking to meet growing traffic demands.
Edward Deng, President of Wireless Solutions at Huawei, unveiled the company’s latest 5G full-series , including the third generation of Massive MIMO, as well as BladeAAU, Easy Macro 3.0, BookRRU 3.0, LampSite Sharing, mmWave macro sites, and pole sites.
A panel debate closed the second day’s conference session, with CCS Insight, ETSI, Huawei, Sunrise and TELUS discussing the event’s big theme: 5G, Gear Up! Discussion focused on the role of standards in establishing 5G, the acceleration of the roll out of 5G globally, the essential role of partnerships in realising the full value of 5G (“5G is a team game”) and the early use cases emerging from deployments.
Also attracting big crowds on day two were summits focused on LTE Evolution and 5G MEC, as well as two roundtables tackling 5G spectrum and wireless automation. The 5G spectrum roundtable addressed the importance of the 6GHz band.
Outside the conference sessions, the forum featured a large exhibition hall showcasing 5G technology, commercial solutions, and a rich array of 5G applications for individual consumers, households, and businesses, including 5G-powered cloud AR/VR, 8K broadcasting, cloud gaming, machine vision and 5G-powered remote-control solutions.
There was also a Speakers’ Corner at the exhibition area, featuring Mr Akinwale Goodluck, Head of GSMA Sub-Sahara Africa, as well as other speakers from KUKA, Sunrise and GSA.
That’s a wrap from this year’s Mobile Broadband Forum. With 5G now a reality, this year’s show demonstrated how we can best gear up for the new 5G world.